The 10 Best Nursing Schools in Canada

The world will always need nurses. Correction: the world will always need skilled, compassionate nurses. 

The best nursing schools challenge students to develop a deep foundational knowledge of the human body and developmental markers, along with patient interaction and ethical practices. 

Modern technology has paved the way for devices poised to revolutionize the healthcare industry. 

In simulations and clinical settings, students work under the supervision of healthcare professionals and expert faculty members to make diagnostic and treatment-based decisions.

It’s never too late to become a nurse. Some people who have already worked in several jobs or industries are hesitant to research nursing careers because they assume multiple barriers. The fact is that many first-class nursing schools have accelerated options for students who have taken this route in life.

We’ve compiled a list of the best nursing schools in Canada. In addition to employing top faculty members, these schools are situated in thriving, intellectually stimulating cities proximal to exquisite outdoor attractions. 

Without further ado, here are 10 of the best nursing schools in Canada.

University of British Columbia School of Nursing (Vancouver, BC)

Our first exceptional nursing school in Canada is located in what is consistently voted as one of the world’s best cities to live in: Vancouver. 

Term 1 nursing school students complete a 13-week nursing placement with older adults and their families before gaining experience in childbearing individuals, youth, and people living with mental health challenges in the following terms.

In the BSN program, nursing students can rank their clinical placement preferences online, but the university does not make any guarantees that they will receive their top selection. 

All nursing students will spend considerable time in the Clinical Practice and Simulation Lab (SSL), a learning environment of 20 hospital beds and advanced technology models and simulators. 

The lab models are designed to provide a low-stakes environment for nursing students to address higher-stakes issues.

McGill University Ingram School of Nursing (Montreal, QC)

McGill University Ingram School of Nursing
Jeangagnon, Wilson Hall, McGill University, CC BY-SA 3.0

At McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing, students can choose among three degree tracks: a BScN, an integrated BN (bachelor of nursing), or an online integrated BN. 

The standard BScN takes 3-4 years to complete and places current nursing issues at the core of the curriculum. 

The learning environment is structured to foster close learning circles of 6-8 students working in tandem with an expert professor. 

Nursing students practice problem-solving in the teaching hospital as early as their first semester. 

One of the highlights of McGill’s program is how it devotes special attention to individuals and families at their progressing stages of development.

McGill’s nursing program culminates in a five-week clinical placement, and students have the option to complete the requirement in international settings

Queen’s University School of Nursing (Kingston, ON)

Queen's University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Fun fact: Kingston has been voted the most cyclable city in Ontario! Its proximity to two major Canadian metropolitan areas and the United States border makes it an appealing option for nursing students who love to travel and experience the vibrant culture of their surrounding area.

Queen’s University’s courses look enjoyable to sit in on. While taking classes like nutrition and health, developmental psychology, and management and leadership in health care, students will participate in clinical placements in community health, pediatric, maternity, mental health, and hospital settings. 

Ready to move at a faster pace? The Accelerated Standing Track (AST) Nursing Program allows students to build on top of their prior university experience and complete the same BScN degree within two years.

McMaster School of Nursing (Hamilton, ON)

Did you know that McMaster’s School of Nursing was recently ranked #15 worldwide? Nearly 2,000 nursing students pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree at McMaster annually. 

These students benefit from a problem-based learning approach in which learning occurs through guided practice (and constructive feedback). 

Nursing students rely on dialogue to resolve real-life issues in the Clinical Learning Centre simulation lab.

McMaster’s Basic (A) Stream program tasks students with building a solid foundation in health promotion and the social sciences in the first year of study, all while developing basic skills in the lab. 

In the second year, nursing students spend eight hours per week at a clinical placement where they collaborate with peers and a faculty advisor on surgical and medical scenarios. 

In years three and four, students progress from 12 to 24 hours per week in rotating clinical settings.

Speaking of settings, Hamilton is an up-and-coming star when it comes to desirable Canadian cities in which to live. 

It has recently built a reputation for economic diversity, and there are great outdoor recreational gems like the Royal Botanical Gardens, Niagara Escarpment, and 50+ free parks.

University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing (Edmonton, AB)

University of Alberta
Viola-Ness, Corbett Hall at the University of Alberta, CC BY-SA 4.0

Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing is one of only six in Canada to grant a broad range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The school was the first to endorse a nursing Ph.D. program in Canada fully. 

In addition to the collaborative undergraduate BScN program, students can choose from an honors program, a master’s program, and a bilingual BScN.

The standard BScN is called the “Collaborative” program because nursing students can split their in-class time among the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Red Deer College, Keyano College, or Grande Prairie Regional College. 

The flexible nature of this program makes Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing an appealing choice for those looking for the best value school.

U of Alberta’s BScN-Bilingual program requires participants to demonstrate proficiency in both English and French, and students will spend part of their class time on other campuses.

University of Ottawa School of Nursing (Ottawa, ON)

University of Ottawa
Jeangagnon, Advanced Research Complex – University of Ottawa, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ottawa: currently the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Canada and ranked as one of the world’s top 20 cities in which to live. 

The city’s public transit system and light rail station facilitate easy transportation among some of the city’s most intriguing locations. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can spend the entire year whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, and sunbathing on the beach. 

Over 1,800 students pursue a BScN at Ottawa – in English and/or French – each year. 

Each nursing student will complete clinical placements in areas like complex nursing care, care of adults experiencing illness, and consolidation. 

Students can also anticipate support as they transition to their new nursing careers. 

The University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute offers programs and certificates in topics like coding for veterans, project management, and workplace writing.

University of Toronto Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing (Toronto, ON)

Toronto is acclaimed for being one of the most diverse cities in the world, with nearly half of its residents born outside of Canada. 

Students attending the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing have the advantage of all the festivals, special events, and sports matches this energetic city offers on a regular basis.

One of the best aspects of Toronto’s BScN is that it is accelerated: students can complete it in two years! 

In this brief time, nursing students work with peers to care for sick and vulnerable people, promote healthy behaviors, address health-related equity issues, and improve their collaboration skills.

In the second year of the accelerated program, nursing students choose an area of specialization and complete an 11-week clinical practicum. They still take classes at this time, such as “Current Topics in Medical Microbiology.”

University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing (Calgary, AB)

Calgary is an excellent option for students seeking pleasant weather: the city witnesses more days of sunshine than any other major Canadian city! 

With proximity to the Rocky Mountains and plenty of outdoor recreational areas, Calgary provides an idyllic setting to pursue a rigorous degree.

There are three pathways to a nursing degree at the University of Calgary, the standard of which is a standard BScN. 

Students living in rural communities or within the Siksika Nation can complete a set of general requirements at their home campus prior to transitioning to Calgary’s campus, making the degree more accessible to people living outside of Canadian urban centers.

The Faculty of Nursing takes part in the university’s five modes of experiential learning, meaning nursing students will take part in co-curricular, curriculum-integrated, community-engaged, research-integrated, and work-integrated learning. 

The goal of this type of exposure is to prepare students to operate effectively in the kinds of work roles they’ll eventually assume.

Dalhousie University School of Nursing (Halifax, NS)

Nursing students at Dalhousie complete their BScN degrees over eight semesters for direct entry into the profession. 

In this fast-paced window, learners develop foundational knowledge in anatomy, family health, and proper hygiene practices while applying their new knowledge and skills in clinical settings.

One attractive offering is the school’s Arctic nursing program in Iqaluit, Nunavut. 

The nursing curriculum instills awareness and appreciation for Inuit culture and prepares nursing students to work with indigenous populations in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health settings.

Halifax is a great place to live and work, and the cost of living is lower in comparison to other big cities like Toronto or Vancouver. 

The only major deal breaker is that the winters can be extremely cold. The town has beautiful areas to enjoy year-round, like Point Pleasant Park, Halifax’s largest park. 

York University School of Nursing (Toronto, ON)

The 4-year direct entry nursing program at York emphasizes leadership and elder care, mental health, and acute-critical care. 

From the beginning of their degree tracks, nursing students will develop confidence by completing tasks in the Nursing Simulation Centre and clinical placements. 

There is also a 2nd entry program ideal for students who have some collegiate experience and are commencing a nursing career after already working in a different industry. 

Within six semesters, nursing students will have gained sufficient experience to meet the requirements of a standard BScN degree.

York seeks to prepare graduates able to work in a variety of sub-industries, including nonprofits, case management, pharmacy, and public policy. 

Living and attending school in Toronto is beneficial for students looking to hone in on their desired work setting.